Summary of Why Bad Ideas Refuse to Die

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Why Bad Ideas Refuse to Die summary
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People can stubbornly cling to false theories and wrong information – in science as much as in everyday life. Steven Poole, author of Rethink: The Surprising History of Ideas, argues persuasively that the reason behind the persistence of nonfactual, often long-disproved ideas isn’t necessarily ignorance. He presents the good and bad effects of “zombie ideas” in both academic and public discourse. getAbstract recommends this article to scientists, conspiracy theorists and anyone curious about the persistence of unconventional notions in a (somewhat) rational world.

About the Author

Steven Poole is the award-winning author of Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas and other books.



According to the theory of the “marketplace of ideas,” public discourse should, over time, winnow out wrong ideas. And yet, people cling to notions that researchers have long dismissed and theories that lack backing by hard evidence. Such “zombie ideas” survive in public – even academic – discourse.

On social media, people have resuscitated the belief in a flat Earth, claiming that a conspiracy is behind the view of a round globe. Ignorance alone can’t explain the allure of such seemingly ludicrous claims. The flat-Earth theory and other zombie ideas persist because...

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